The Fear of God

Fear of God…never means to the Jews that they ought to be afraid of God, but that, trembling, they ought to be aware of His incomprehensibility…It is the dark gate through which man must pass if he is to enter into the love of God. He who wishes to avoid passing through this gate, he who begins to provide for himself a comprehensible God, constructed thus and not otherwise, runs the risk of having to despair of God in view of the actualities of history and life, or of falling into inner falsehood. Only through the fear of God does man enter so deep into the love of God that he cannot again be cast out of it.

The fear of God is only a gate, however, and not, as some theologians believe, a dwelling in which man can settle down. When man encounters the demonic, he must not rest in it but must penetrate behind it to find the meaning of his meeting with it. The fear of God must flow into the love of God and be comprehended by it before one is ready to endure in the face of God the whole reality of lived life.

-Martin Buber